Thursday, 20, November 2014

Filed under:
The Croke Park

Written by
Nicola Brady

A Day in the Life of Alan Smullen

Alan Smullen, GM of The Croke Park

To be honest, my working day starts a few minutes after waking up. I check the emails to see if any issues happened overnight and what our sales/occupancy figures were.  I am usually at my desk before 8am and very often earlier than that!  First thing I do is walk the ground floor, just to get a feel for how everyone is doing. I head into Reservations first, then into the kitchen and around the breakfast room, just to see if I need to assist in the operation.  I am then ready for my coffee, a must for me in the mornings!  Then it's time to check the Daily Sheet, our bible for the day here in Croke Park.  I examine the arrivals, what groups are arriving or in-house and what conferences we have taking place during the day.

Thankfully there are no “normal” mornings in Croke Park, and every day is different.  The times vary depending on what paperwork I have to do, but I meet my Revenue Manager every morning to discuss the previous day's rooms revenue pickup.  I would have a catch-up with my Director of Sales & Marketing following that, to discuss any Sales calls planned or any VIP show-rounds planned. 

Throughout the day, I try interact with as many guests as possible, both new arrivals and regulars.  I make sure I spend time in the lobby and in the bar to see how everyone is getting on.  I have been known to jump behind the desk and check guests in and out also – although most of the front desk team say I am too slow at it now, I must be getting old! 

When I was a Reception Team Leader here in Croke Park a number of years ago I was checking in a couple who were heading on their holidays.  I am not sure how it happened but they had forgotten their suitcase and they were flying off the following morning!  Myself and one of the Duty Managers got their sister’s phone number off them, and the sister brought the bag to the bus stop.  An uncle of a friend of mine was a bus driver for CIE and we got the number for the bus driver who would be working the route that day.  He collected the bag and brought it to Busaras that night, I picked it up and we had it at the desk for the guests checking out the following morning. Crisis averted! 

At lunch time I make sure I am on the kitchen pass, controlling the orders going out to the bar, ensuring quick service for this busy period.  We have an amazing team working here in the hotel, I am very lucky to be part of such a high performing team.

I try take a break around lunch time and eat in the canteen, usually around 2.30pm.  I am very lucky that the chefs will often cook me something special (and healthy) when I am on a diet!

Any time of the day can be busy, it just depends on what is going on that day.  On an event day, it is constantly busy from early morning until late at night but it is the best buzz ever – seeing all the planning and preparation coming together and the team performing so well under pressure. 

Some days I am finished before 6pm, other days I have to catch up on paperwork and stay later.  My Operations Manager (Sean) is usually in work before me and here later than me, he does all the hard work in the hotel…or so he tells me!  By the end of the day there is usually a pile of emails and more paperwork to do – filling out reports or answering queries. But the guest should never suffer because you are doing internal paperwork, they must always be priority. 

Outdoor area in The Croke Park

I used to play Gaelic Football and that was my favourite thing to do after work – no emails and no phone, just enjoying my hobby.  Unfortunately I am now too old and “out of condition” to play so I help manage a team, it is nearly as enjoyable. 

My wife is also a Hotel General Manager so when we get home, we usually have twenty minutes to discuss work, then it’s off limits – otherwise hospitality would take up every waking moment in my day! In the past year I have taken up spinning, a super exercise class that gives you great energy…although the legs get very sore the following morning! 

I am working in the hotel for 9 years and over that period I have been lucky to witness many historic events in Croke Park – the Rugby Internationals, Leinster V Munster, the visit of the Queen and many more.  I have had some great event days with super performances by the team here and of course my first day as GM was extremely special. 

However, as a Wicklow GAA nut, my favourite memory is from the summer of 2008 when Wicklow beat Kildare in the Senior Football Championship.  This was the first time Wicklow had ever won a Championship match in Croke Park, and a school friend & teammate of mine was playing that day.  To see all the deliriously happy Wicklow supporters come into the Hotel afterwards was definitely one of the happiest memories I have of my work history – it hasn’t happened a lot since unfortunately!

To see more about The Croke Park Hotel, visit the website here.  

GAA - football